The Challenge of Non-State Actors

Part of the Global Forecast 2015

After half a century during which the Middle East was divided along Cold War lines between U.S. allies and adversaries, the United States now has friendly relations with nearly every Arab state, save the Assad regime in Syria. Yet, non-state armed groups have emerged as key protagonists in conflicts around the region, and they are often hostile to the United States. Today they undermine U.S. policy goals, destabilize fragile states, and kill civilians.

More than ever before, the United States must address a mutating set of foes that operates in increasingly complex political environments. Doing so will require U.S. government officials to demonstrate vigilance, dynamism, and creativity at a time when security concerns push many to huddle inside embassy walls.